Inland Northwest Freethought Achievement Awards


Inland Northwest Freethought Achievement Award

 

Is Hereby Awarded to

 

Kay and Harlan Hayes 

 

For the Advancement of Enlightenment Values,

Selfless Community Service, and

Radiant Good Humor

 

Sponsored by the

 

Inland Northwest Freethought Society

 

November 10,  2013


21 years ago, back in 1992, Bill Clinton was elected president, the #1 pop song was “I’m Too Sexy For my Shirt,” and Los Angeles erupted in violence after 4 policemen were acquitted in the Rodney King beating . . . 

It was spring of that same year, 1992, that the recipients of today’s INFS Achievement Award were casually watching Community Television Spokane when a surprising public service announcement scrolled across the screen . . . “Keep Church and State Separate. Protect our First Amendment rights to exercise any religion or none.”  It was placed there by Sherrie Nash Bryant, who was recruiting people to attend the first meeting of a new secular group, held in the back of the New Age candle and book shop she owned in Hillyard.  Harlan Hayes patiently sat for 20 minutes to catch the phone number when it scrolled by on the screen again, so he and Kay could meet and join with like-minded people.

Kay grew up in North Dakota and Harlan in Montana. Both came from nominally religious families that celebrated holidays as primarily social and cultural events. Kay recalls that the only time her family said “grace” was when the minister came for dinner. Kay met Harlan when they were both in college in Missoula, MT. They married and after he graduated, he entered into active duty, rising to level of Captain, and was later promoted to Major while in the Army Reserves.  One of his many assignments was at Fairchild AFB near Spokane.  Along the way, Kay and Harlan traveled extensively and raised five children (3 boys and 2 girls) with Kay volunteering at various public schools to read to children.  However, in every community, they served on many committees, and always, directly or indirectly,  representing reason and preserving separation between church and state. Harlan recalls when he took over command of a Battery at Fort Bliss, the Battalion commander called him in on a Monday and asked how many of his men had attended chapel the day before.  Harlan told him he had no idea, BUT if he wanted to know how many redheads were in his unit, he could tell him that. Despite the commander’s veiled threat that such views might “reflect negatively on Harlan’s efficiency report,” Harlan just shrugged his shoulders and continued on.  When Kay gave birth to their last daughter while Harlan was stationed in Korea, the army chaplain whose task it was to inform soldiers about such things, knew Harlan was not a theist, so he neglected to even tell Harlan his child had been born for TWO weeks.  (So much for Christian kindness and decency!) 

 After retiring from the Army Reserves, Harlan returned to his first love, forestry, working for the Bureau of Land Management at ever-increasing levels of responsibility, and eventually, on his retirement, they settled in Spokane.  And of course, back in 1992, they immediately responded to Sherrie Nash Bryant’s call for involvement, attending the meeting that became the PAINE Society, after Thomas Paine: People Actively Into Non-Theistic Ethics.  

PAINE was part of FFRF from almost its start, and so were Kay and Harlan Hayes, as Kay became the organization’s first secretary-treasurer.

The FFRF Executive Council approved PAINE as a chapter in June of 1992 and founder Anne Nicol Gaylor responded personally, welcoming them and requesting a picture of the group. That very first year, the PAINE Society participated in hosting a booth at Spokane’s Riverfront Park Fourth of July and at Founder’s Day event in August, representing FFRF and separation of church and state.  The PAINE Society also participated in the first nation-wide Freethought Day on October 12, 1992 – commemorating the 300th anniversary of October 12, 1692, the date that Massachusetts Governor Phipps declared that all evidence admitted in a courtroom must be “observable, measurable, and replicable by the ordinary senses” – causing an immediate termination of the Salem Witch trials which had accepted “spectral evidence.”

Kay and Harlan’s daughter, Kathyrn Ann Chandler, who lives locally designed both the blue tee shirts and the club banner with the group’s name and the words: “Church and State.  Keep Them Separate.”

As secretary-treasurer for over six years, Kay was actively involved in petitioning Washington State in 1995 to proclaim January 1996 as State/Church Separation Month. Thanks to Kay and Harlan’s letters, along with letters from PAINE members and friends, Washington State Governor Mike Lowry and Spokane Mayor Jack Geraghty signed the proclamation.

Eventually, tired of hearing wisecracks (Kay remembers getting a postcard sent to the P.O. Box 436 in Greenacres saying, “Yes, you people ARE a pain in the ass,”) the group changed their name to the Inland Northwest FreeThought Society.

In 1998, Kay and Harlan, along with an ever-growing number of members like Ross Woodward and Dennis Bower, lobbied for a plaque to be placed on the Centennial Trail in downtown Spokane.  Next  time you walk that path, pay attention to Trail Marker 3021, which reads: “Preserve America. Keep Church and State Separate. INFS 1998.”

Over many years, Kay and Harlan have been active critics of religious irrationality and bigotry, writing letters to the Spokesman Review and the Coeur d’Alene Press. (Kay was even interviewed for a story by SR staff writer, Rebecca Nappi.) Kay wrote letters to FFRF and the ACLU regarding prayer at Spokane City Council meetings. Kay even wrote a letter to Clinkerdagger’s, pointing out that their offer of a 10% discount on Sunday meals if the patron brought in a church bulletin, was discriminatory and unconstitutional.  Clinkerdagger’s ended the practice. They knew better than to tangle with Kay!

 

Kay and Harlan held meetings in their home, donated generously to causes, such as bringing speakers like Bette Chambers (American Humanist Association) and FFRF’s Dan Barker to Spokane, and actively participating in a book drive, headed by Doranne Miller, collecting children’s books to establish a library on Asor, a South Pacific island.

Harlan took the helm as INFS President  from 2005 to 2007 and Kay took on the role of historian, keeping the INFS scrapbooks and copies of op-ed letters written by members.   Over the years, they have attended FFRF conventions in Tampa, Madison, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland.  In 2012, they were some of the first members to volunteer to be on the FFRF “Out-of-the-Closet” Billboard campaign for Spokane, with the motto: “Evidence and Science Trumps Myth – Reason Wins!”

Kay and Harlan each became FFRF "Life-Time Subscribers” in 2008  --  no small commitment as sponsorship requires a $1,000 outlay per person – but shows how they are willing to put their money where their mouths/principles are.   It’s not a stretch to say that without the hard work and active long-term involvement of Kay and Harlan Hayes, there would be no INFS today.

Few individuals can match the Hayes’ stalwart support for advancing the ideals of rationalism and freethought in the Inland Empire.  In recognition of a lifetime of unwavering commitment to science, reason, and non-theistic ethics, we honor Kay and Harlan Hayes as recipients of the Inland Northwest Freethought Achievement Award, this 10th day of November, 2013. 


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Inland Northwest Freethought Achievement Award

 

Is Hereby Awarded to

 

Lorraine and Ray Ideus

 

For the Advancement of Enlightenment Values,

Selfless Community Service, and

Radiant Good Humor

 

Sponsored by the

 

Inland Northwest Freethought Society

 

March  10,  2013

 


There was never a couple more appropriately named as the third recipients of the Inland Northwest Freethought Achievement Award: Lorraine and Ray Ideus.  Ideus is literally an ancient variation of the modern word atheist.  ‘I’ signifies a negation, and ‘deus’ signifies god.  Given the commitment that Lorraine and Ray have devoted to the freethinking cause, one might be tempted to conclude that their values were pre-ordained by some higher power.  This cosmic irony is handily rivaled by a story more compelling and hard-won.

 

Both partners grew up in austere mid-west farm country.  Ray was an earnest farmhand who longed to see some of the world, and so joined the U.S. Army in his late teens.  Lorraine also wanted to see more of the world (one of her favorite plays is Auntie Mame), and she became a nurse.  Even though the mid-west is not a hotbed of Enlightenment ideals, both Lorraine and Ray independently arrived at greater insights than promoted by the culture of their youth.

 

Ray was honorably discharged from the Army with high commendations.  He excelled at marksmanship.  Only one fateful blemish marred his record:  a pair of binoculars entrusted to his care and lent to a colleague was lost, and Ray was accountable.  Ray still believed in god at the time, and in a heartfelt prayer he promised god to repay with interest any grace that god would provide.  As fate would have it grace was granted, and Ray entered the Lutheran priesthood to make good on his commitment.  Even though decades of blinkered indoctrination present formidable inertia, the inconsistencies of dogmatic doctrine kept Ray’s inquisitive mind at work.  After seeing a talk given by the Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-President Dan Barker, Ray realized that for him religious momentum had run its course, and unfettered inquiry was the only reality worth pursuing.


Lorraine was a little more savvy at avoiding long-term religious commitments.  Her journey out of the mid-west started in Chicago, and from there led to many other states along the east coast.  Seeds of open inquiry were nurtured in the ground where Lorraine met many decent honest people who didn’t profess or practice supplication to a deity. Lorraine and Ray met in Topeka, Kansas where Lorraine was studying nursing, and Ray was in a chaplaincy program.

 

Lorraine and Ray moved to Spokane in 2002.  Once in Spokane, they joined the Inland Northwest Freethought Society and the Spokane Humanists.  Both are active and candid community leaders.  Lorraine has been indispensable in organizing events with these clubs.  Aside from wrangling volunteers for community events such as First Night Spokane, she is a driving force responsible for many successful Humanists Banquets (Dan Barker, Rob Boston, and David Niose), as well as supervising involvement of the Spokane County Interstate Fair.  Ray is a premier spokesman for the nontheist perspective.  His forthright good-nature has been showcased not only in multiple television and newspaper interviews, but he graciously participated in a local FFRF Out-of-the-Closet Billboard campaign as well.  With his uncommon insight to the conflicts endured by many enlightened clergy who are trapped in a profession of faith, Ray is an eminent leader in the Clergy Project.

 

If these good works weren’t enough, Lorraine and Ray entered the fray of state/church entanglement by challenging the Spokane City Police Department’s use of a Christian cross on police badges and Christian prayers recited at police functions.  As a volunteer with the Spokane City Police Department, Ray noticed to his dismay a Latin cross prominently displayed on the department’s chaplaincy badges.  Ray worked with the Center for Justice to have this particular violation of state/church separation rectified and in November 2007 the city of Spokane settled by establishing a religion neutral policy in which badges “shall not reflect any particular religious belief or serve to promote a specific religion”.

 

Stalwart citizens such as these are a treasure.  Everyone shines in their honest glory.
 
 
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Inland Northwest Freethought Achievement Award

 

Is Hereby Awarded to
 

 Jimmie Durkin

 

For the Advancement of Enlightenment Values,

Selfless Community Service, and

Radiant Good Humor

 

Sponsored by the

 

Inland Northwest Freethought Society

 

June 28,  2009

 


 

James “Jimmie” Durkin (1859-1934)

 

If you ever find yourself strolling through Spokane’s Greenwood Cemetery, you may come upon a tombstone reading: The minister said, ‘A man of his word.’

The hidden irony is that a Baptist preacher’s quote came to serve as the epitaph for one of Spokane’s most colorful atheists, also know as "Spokane’s Main Avenue Philosopher."  To fully appreciate this requires a little knowledge about the life and times of James “Jimmie” Durkin (1859-1934).

 

Born to Irish parents, young Jimmie and his family emigrated to the U.S. in 1868.  His business skills were honed by selling newspapers, working in taverns, and learning the wholesale liquor trade.  In 1886 he headed out west to the Washington Territory, arriving in Colville. Although only a small hamlet riding the coattails of the region’s mining boom, Colville still managed to support nine active saloons.  Durkin opened number ten.  His business strategy was simple and successful.  He shipped in booze by the barrel rather than in jugs or bottles and undercut the competition.  Within a decade, Durkin amassed a small fortune. 

He next set his sights on a larger market – Spokane.

 

When Durkin relocated to Spokane in 1897, he once again had a plan for competing with the city’s 120 other saloons: relentless advertising and a bit of class.  In an era of fewer laws and regulations to moderate human behavior and business conduct, Durkin was ahead of his time.  His ethics advocating personal responsibility and accountability carried over into his business practices.  His bartenders were not allowed to drink while on duty and they were instructed to quit serving any customer getting tipsy.  Loud and boisterous drunks were not tolerated.  For a while, his establishment posted a sign reading “Don’t buy booze if your children need shoes.”  Durkin’s Bar earned a reputation as a relatively respectable joint.

 

Even so, Durkin’s success didn’t escape the attention of local temperance movement activists.  In 1907, a Baptist preacher named E. H. Braden sermonized about how Durkin’s advertising ignored the evil downside of liquor trafficking and went on to state that he wished he could decorate Jimmie Durkin’s salon windows “in a way to display the tragedy of drink.”  When informed of this challenge, the marketing savvy Durkin readily accepted the preacher’s offer.  He promised not to interfere and even offered to pay all expenses.  Pastor Braden immediately went to work on eight windows, some depicting young women in rags with shabbily dressed children abandoned by hard-drinking husbands, while others gave statistics about the ill-effects of liquor.  The anti-alcohol messages were allowed to remain up for weeks and the ensuing media attention served as nothing more than free advertising for Durkin.  The Spokesman-Review newspaper finally scoffed at the whole thing as a “giant publicity stunt,” which of course it was.  Business at Durkin’s Bar increased dramatically.  Durkin even went so far as to place advertisements inviting visiting Baptists to “Inspect the Only Liquor Store in America Whose Windows Were Decorated by a Baptist Minister.”  When pressed for comment, the Reverend Braden begrudgingly conceded that at the very least “Jimmie Durkin is a man of his word”  -- a phrase Durkin would adopt as his motto for the rest of his life.

 

The outspoken Durkin was progressive in both thought and politics.  He opined freely when asked on any number of subjects.  Although raised in the Catholic tradition, he seemed comfortable, even proud, to publicly admit to an atheistic philosophical bent.  Some local papers dubbed him “Spokane’s Main Avenue Philosopher.”  His concern for the truth was evident in some of his correspondence.  He once told New York governor, Al Smith, that truth always wins eventually and that his “strength lies in shooting from the guns of truth.”  During the 1925 Scopes evolution trial, he telegraphed defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, to praise Darrow’s devotion to “the brightest of all jewels known (the truth)” and his commitment to “freedom of thought and education.”

 

Durkin lived to see the end of Prohibition (a policy reversal he accurately predicted many years earlier) and reopened his salon, but he fell ill in the summer of 1934.  Two ‘deathbed’ statements are attributed to Jimmie Durkin.  He purportedly was asked if he wished to renounce atheism in favor of the Catholic faith of his youth, to which he replied: “As I live, so I die, for a man who does otherwise is not a man.”  The second concerned his wishes regarding his tombstone.

James “Jimmie” Durkin, in life and at death, was truly “a man of his word.”

 

We honor James "Jimmie" Durkin  as the second recipient of the Inland Northwest Freethought Achievement Award this 28th day of June, 2009.

 

[As source, many thanks to the Spokesman-Review archives and HistoryLink.org]

 

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Inland Northwest Freethought Achievement Award

 

Is Hereby Awarded to
 

 Ross Woodward

 

For the Advancement of Enlightenment Values,

Selfless Community Service, and

Radiant Good Humor

 

Sponsored by the

 

Inland Northwest Freethought Society

 

January  11,  2009

 

 


Ross Woodward (1927 – 2005)

 

Ross Woodward was born and raised in Alberta, Canada before moving to the Inland Northwest to pursue studies in economics, politics, and broadcasting.  A WSU graduate, Ross developed a distinguished career as a broadcast journalist in this region he called home for nearly 60 years.

 

With a willingness to question everything from childhood on, Ross had a propensity toward freethought; a trait that revealed itself in his profession and was recognized by others in his work.  Unable to find just the right venue to satisfy his need for intellectual stimulation, Ross founded the Spokane Humanist Focus group in 1995.  A few years later he joined the Inland Northwest Freethought Society.  Ross was also a longtime member of the American Humanist Association, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the Council for Secular Humanism.  Late in life, Ross formed an informal, weekly discussion group called "Tape, Talk, and Coffee" for the reviewing and discussion of taped lectures.  Ross was grateful for the gift of evolution that conferred on his species self-awareness, intelligence, and the ability to communicate.

 

Few individuals will match Ross’s contributions in advancing the ideals of rationalism and freethought in the Inland Empire.  In recognition of a lifetime of unwavering commitment to science, reason, and non-theistic ethics, we honor Ross Woodward as the very first recipient of the Inland Northwest Freethought Achievement Award this 11th day of January, 2009.
 

posted Nov 11, 2013, 1:19 PM by Elizabeth Rose   [ updated Nov 11, 2013, 2:46 PM ]


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